Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewery

329 Reviews
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Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial PorterBarrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter

Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by DogFood11 on 04-14-2007

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Reviews: 329 | Ratings: 746
Photo of beersands
1.98/5  rDev -51.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Paid $38 for a 12oz-ish sized bottle at Queens Head in Stockholm, Sweden. Smelled like madeira/port, very similar smell to Utopias but a little less smooth. Poured very dark, but it had absolutely no carbonation and no head. Not a single bubble. I wonder if the bottle had maybe been previously opened and then resealed when the purchaser found out it was so expensive because the other reviewers claim there is normally carbonation. I invited 7 differen people to sample it, to make sure I wasn't crazy. NOBODY could drink this. it was like a ruined glass of port-type wine. DISGUSTING.

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Photo of Bighuge
2.38/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Appearance: Thick black body. Mousse like dark brown head. Thick and rocky. Moderate amounts of patchy lace are left behind as I drink.

Aroma: Dark chocolates, anise oil and roasted malts.

Flavor: Bitter roastd malt tones with black licorice and a little char thrown in for good measure. I like that part of the equation. But there's also a husky astringency and tannic bite to this beer that makes is somewhat unpleasant. Alcohol is also quite evident.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Light to light-medium in body. Too light IMHO. Airy and gaseous as well. Not a good feel to this beer. Too much carbonation. Not velvety or creamy or lush. Gaseous beers bother me and this is just that. The sum of all the parts to this beer does not equal a good beer. The astingency/tannic/alcoholic character mixed with a disagreeable mouthfeel makes for a disappointing experience.

This makes me appreciate all the more what works of art the barrel aged beers from the Town Hall really are.

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Photo of PhxHorn
2.76/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

Got this one at Sun Devil in Mesa, AZ. Pours a dark brown, but with no head. Completely flat. Tasted of bourbon and coffee and some chocolate, but I could hardly take more than a few sips before tossing this one. The regular Gonzo Porter is great stuff, but this ain't happenin' at all.

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Photo of Jmamay22
2.93/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: With a pop and a pour an extremely creamy looking coffee head develops atop a pitch black brew. The head refuses to disappear. Some sticky lacing.

S: The huge head pushes up a roasted almost burnt smell of malt and coffee with a possible hint of chocolate. Hops make themselves well known as well.

T: Hops jump out at you and then finishes with burnt malts and alcohol. Some chocolate creeps in, but the taste never really develops into something great.

M/D: Overly carbonated, but unfortunately the mouthfeel is too thin. I expected a smoother feel with the introduction of barrel aging 25% of it, but it doesn't really come through.

The beer looks great, but it seems as if it could do so much more. Porters aren't my top style, but this disappoints, escpecially at such a high price. I've never had the regular Gonzo, but this might put me off of it. I expected better.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
2.95/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a very dark brown with a respectable frothy head. Smell is of a roasty bourbon. The taste is huge. A very good underlying porter with a large amount of bourbon flavoring. The mouthfeel is big and creamy. However, there was way too much carbonation for my liking. The same comment was made by all, and that was, this is good, but doesn’t compare to Founders KBS. Still a very good beer, but not as complex or as good as several others.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.98/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Thanks to bum732 for sending me this one!

The cork on this bottle did not pop or make any noise for that matter. Not a good sign.

Pours a pitch black color with absolutely zero head and zero lacing. Smells of roasted coffee, toasted coconut, vanilla, wood, and some bourbon notes. Taste is exactly like the nose but the coffee taste is subdued and there are some soy sauce flavors. Slight alcohol taste and burn in the back of the throat after each sip. Ok, this beer has ZERO carbonation. It is super flat, super thick, and a chore to even take a swallow. Horrible, horrible feel. Overall, this beer is obviously off in the carbonation department. I am not sure what happened here since the other reviews I am reading don't have this issue. I bet this would be pretty awesome if the carbonation and mouthfeel issues were normal.

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Photo of ppoitras
3/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750ml bottle purchased at Julio's, Westboro, MA. Corked and caged.

Poured in a heavy glass chalice, formed a 3" dark brown head over the opaque dark brown/black brew. Head slowly fades, leaving tons of rocky lace in its wake. Aroma is dark maltiness with lots of bourbon and alcohol, all of which has its corners rounded a bit by the vanilla. Taste is a peek of dark sweetness, which is quickly tempered by slightly sour fruitiness. Vanilla comes next, with lastin bourbon and alcohol at the close. Mouthfeel is way thin, and drinkability is just not that great for me. For $19/btl, I expect more.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.08/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Many thanks to John for this birthday treat. Aged in my cellar for about 5 months before consumption.

Appearance: Nearly black-brown body with cherry hues and a brown head.

Aroma: Dark chocolate, some boozy woody notes, a decent amount of piney hops, and pinches of vanilla and rum.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Boozy. Astringent. Thick. Well, strike that, aggressively carbonated. Needs more time to mellow but still offers some booze soaked chocolate covered cherry sort of notes and some whiskey flavor that I don’t mind too much. Molasses and charcoal. Lacks cohesiveness.

Drinkability: Low. I couldn’t finish more than a half bottle by myself if I tried. With time, I think this would improve a bit.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.22/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Vintage 2011. Thank to Chris for sharing!

(A)- Pours a thick pitch black color. Produced some brown froth that dissipated quickly.

(S)- Loads of rich coca and molasses/raisin with bits of bourbon soaked oak. Simple, but rich and very inviting.

(T)- Surprisingly kinda thin; not as rich as the smell or chocolatey, but definitely carries a predominately oaky whiskey flavor. . not much detected in regards to the style; obviously barrel aged since it has taken over the entire beer.

(M)- A mellow carbonation level. A bit thin and slick with the predominate almost salty whiskey flavor. Very straightforward.

(D)- Not bad, but kind of a disappointment. Started out solid, but the taste and feel quickly told me otherwise. I am glad to have tried it, but there are better beers out there. Maybe this needs time.

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Photo of jethrodium
3.23/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. Pours a dark brown with a one finger head that has good retention and good lacing. Aroma is huge vanilla and bourbon with a bit of alcohol and not much else. The taste is sweet with vanilla and bourbon with hints of dark chocolate and light coffee. More vanilla on the finish. Medium body. Medium carbonation. Definitely on the sweet side. A very one dimensional beer. I got pretty much all barrel from it and not much else. I prefer the regular gonzo to this.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.23/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Strange, I didn't really find that the barrel-aging greatly enhanced this beer. While my sampling of the non-aged Gonzo was some time ago, I recall preferring the non-barrel aged version. Nonetheless, this beer was quite rich and good.

Beer poured black with a pretty rich head which lingered and offered good lacing. Roasty aroma with some chocolate but also some off-notes that seemed to me to be cardboard-y and oxidized. Flavor was more rich roastiness (and was good!)t, but also had some oxidized and papery character. Mouthfeel was as expected.

I would recommend this beer, but was hardly blown-away by it. I had this on-tap at Roman's Pub in Milwaukee.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
3.29/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle into Bruery tulip. Another pick-up from Bruisin' Ales in Asheville.

Pours pitch black from top to bottom. Thinnish light-brown head quickly fades to nothing. Decent legs, and a bit of short-lived lacing.

Nose is very nice - bourbon comes through clearly with notes of oak and coconut, bit of vanilla; booziness is quite reserved, with the alcohol taking on a light, spicy character. A barely discernible earthy hop character in there as well, as well as some dry, sharply roasted malt and a bit of chocolate as the beer warms.

Taste is an about face from the nose - dry up front, roasty, with an overly aggressive bourbon character that really dominates the landscape. That said, there are some nice notes in there - big, bold oaky coconut, vanilla and an almost minty character that's quite pleasant, light roastiness, and a light, dry hop bitterness sticking its head out towards the finish. Still, very much a one-note pony, and that one note isn't done particularly well at all. Taking an already fairly dry beer and throwing in a ton of bourbon doesn't create what I would call a balanced, nuanced beer.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, slick, slightly sharp in the carbonation department. Mouthfeel lacks the creaminess I always hope for in big stouts and porters like this, and the bourbon actually thins out the body just a hair.

Drinkability is fairly meh. Not a bad beer, but not again, fairly one-note and that note is really driven into the ground. The lack of supporting sweetness or richness from the base beer doesn't help either.

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
3.31/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Well this poured out pretty flat. No head at all and well flat. The beer itself is very dark brown with a dark read hue.

S- Smells great, bourbon, butter, cherry, figs, and vanilla. Pretty complex.

T- The taste itself is very flat so the flavors take a long time to develop. A lot of smells show up in the taste. It is complex, but not very long lasting. The lack of carbonation really kills this beer.

M- Meh, the lack of C02 just doesn't allow this medium to thick body beer to really shine.

D- Same statement as mouthfeel.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
3.33/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: This beer pours black, pitch black with a large rich brown head that stays for quite some time before it dissipates leaving great lacings.

S: Complex smell with heavy roasted malt with some sweetness. Oak and vanilla together with dark dried fruit and faint coconut.

T: Not as well balanced as the smell. Heavy roasted malt togheter with lots of oaky vanilla and some coconut.

M: The aftertaste is mostly sweet but also holds some bitterness. The body is full and the carbonation is light.

D: A bit to unbalanced for my taste. It gets a perfumy feeling. But it's a very full beer.

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Photo of bbothen
3.35/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Careful pour brings a HUGE 3+ finger tan head. Deep dark black color. Nice sticky brown cappucino looking lacing on glass. Some serious carbonation here.

Aromas of wood, booze, sweet caramel, plum/date, cherry & some chocolate as well.

Some nice toasted bitterness going on here. The bourbon & wood really come through. Vanilla, coffee, dark fruit, & coffee flavors as well. Fairly complex.

Too carbonated for my tastes. Gets smoother feeling as it warms. But there is a effervesence that battles it. And wins.

Unfortunately the carbonation makes this a struggle to finish the bottle. After sitting for awhile the really nice flavors do come through.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
3.35/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: This beer is foamy. Really foamy. The head is HUGE! Like 10 times bigger than the body itself. Need to let it chill out a little bit and I’ll get back to this. OK, this is gonna take a while, this head is thick and not looking to drop very soon. Massive mocha colored bubbles ain’t going no where. The body underneath is an attractive sable color, of what can be found under the head.

S: Minor bourbon…slightly pungent, butter, dried cocoa and a bit of vanilla.

T: Begins oaky with vanilla aspects. Pungent bourbon comes in bringing with it more pungent oak. Mineral flavors ensue before basic cocoa flavors come forward. Mild bourbon flavors finish this beer out with a nice vanilla streak. Overall cloying and disappointing.

M: Medium body with a medium mouthfeel.

D: Wow was I disappointed by this beer. I suppose I was never a real big fan of the original

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Photo of pants678
3.38/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Black with a beige head.

Smells of darker malts, coffee and oak/whiskey.

Comes off unexpectedly sweet, a sort of raisin and wood. Has that whiskey and smoke flavor without being terribly hot. Taking a small shot of vanilla extract might be comparable. Well hopped but not sharp, no spice or coffee notes but still rich and complex.

Medium carbonation, porter as opposed to a stout.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.41/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at PPP, review from notes.

A: The beer is dark brown with a small mocha colored head on top that reduces to a thin cap on top. Some sheets of lacing.

S: A good bit of roasted malt with a bunch of alcohol. A lot of the nice aromas that exist with the base beer were covered up by the barrel.

T: Some dark stone fruit, roasted malt, and again a bunch of alcohol. It is a little on the sweet side as well.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Definite alcohol presence.

O: Had high hopes for this one, I like the base beer very much, but this one was too boozy for me.

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Photo of tpd975
3.43/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Not sure who sent this one to me but I have had it for well over a year.

A: Pours a nice dark black hue with a big tall pillow like espresso colored head. The retention is out of this world with nice big thick chunks of lace left behind. Really beautiful beer in the glass.

S: Roasted marshmallows in the aroma, bourbon notes like oak and booze, roasted coffee, and chocolate.

T: Sweet flavors of brown sugar, chocolate, alcohol, bourbon, dark fruit, and a touch of sour. I like all the flavors they just don't meld together as good as they should.

M: Big and full bodied. Dry finish with some booze sting.

D: This is a sipper. Very big beer that took on alot of barrel qualities. I enjoyed it, but wish I had opened it with a friend. It is a bit much to enjoy alone.

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Photo of Bmoyer0301
3.45/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5


Again I find a coked bottle that seems to want and find me the whole way, so I was forced to use my channel locks to extract it. Once It finally came out a very loud pop greeted me, and I poured straight on in my cognac snifter and was left with a very thin tan colored head that quickly dissipated to almost nothing except a thin whisp around the edges. As I hold it up to the light appears to be deep deep brown with no light passing through, no yeast chunks. Viscosity seems to be a little thin.


A lot of dark fruit here, black cherries, currants, and figs hit me first. Slight aroma of vanilla but very faint to zero oak or bourbon notes. Sweet maltiness , caramel , pipe tobacco, absolutely no hop presence.


Ahh...there is the bourbon. Followed up with earthy coffee, fruits, and ash. There is a strange tartness that rounds out the middle with some plum notes. Slight acidity and oak are blending with the heat alcohol very well. In the finish I'm noticing dark chocolate and cocoa nibs.


Great beer, not as thick as I would have predicted but still very good. Aroma could use more bourbon in my opinion but all around pretty easy sipping and smooth.

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Photo of Lucular
3.45/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Really disappointing. Gonzo is fairly hoppy and the hoppiness was the predominant note in this version - more so than booze, barrel, vanilla, chocolate, sweetness, or anything else you'd expect with a barrel-aged stout/porter. Not very good.

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Photo of dbmernin83
3.45/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

It's black. Light khaki head.
Big toffee and caramel. Booze. Light bourbon.
Sweet toffee and sticky caramel. Boozy. Light coffee bitterness.
Big carbonation for the style. Almost too big.
Very sweet. Good in small pours but this is one I have to be in the mood for.

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Photo of Scrumtralecent
3.48/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 bottle, poured into a snifter.

A - Pours pitch black with a light mocha head that fades rather quickly, with a film of it holding on at the edges.

S - The barrel aging is forefront, smells like it has that hard bourbon edge to it, rather than a meld with the malts. Chocolate, licorice, and oak notes found, but the bourbon wins over all.

T - Taste is just like the smell, plenty of bourbon in the forefront. Slight roasted malt, but seem to be overpowered by the whiskey. Backbone is a little lackluster, could do a little more on the backend besides the heat of the bourbon. Not the best marriage of brew and barrel I've had, but solid.

M - Little thin and hot from the barrel. Carbonation is solid, but would want a little more substance than alcohol burn.

O - Decent barrel aged porter, but not superb. Not the best meld, but it's nice to have a decent barrel aged beer that I didn't have to clamor tooth and nail for, and grab multiples. Hope the heat dies down in a year or so and lets the beer meld together.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.49/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Vintage - 2009? Cork was bone dry and quite brittle.

Appearance -- Pours a rich dark brown with a slim, creamy beige head.

Smell -- This smells lovely: Vanilla, chocolate, gentle bourbon, caramel, maple sugar, and hints of dark fruit and figs.

Taste -- Not quite as good as the nose, sadly. Bakers chocolate, golden toast, caramel, dark fruit, berry-like tartness and yeast. The barrel character is quite nice: vanilla-like oak sugars, smooth sour mash bourbon, and oak wood tannins. There seems to be a slight touch of soy sauce and cork. Lingering flavors of oak, bourbon, cocoa, and caramel.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-light in body with gentler carbonation. Could gain from some additional body, and the carbonation was so gentle that halfway through the glass it became still.

Drinkability -- Overall it was okay. I fear my bottle was slightly corked as there were some noticeable off flavors. The smell is truly exceptional, so much so that the taste was a bit of a letdown. I'll be looking for this again in case my bottle was a dud.

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Photo of GhettoFabulous
3.49/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured this with much anticipation out of a 750 ml bottle. I'm excited as hell to drink this and share it with some loved ones, but as the dark beer clugs out of the bottle and into our snifters, it is clear there is a problem: not so much a hint of carbonation.

Still, it smells really excellent. Pleasant aromas of whiskey and oak waft up from the dubious looking elixir.

The first sip is good, but not great. The whiskey is running the show here. This brew somehow gets all the notes of whiskey without the booziness, which is welcome, and perhaps even a gateway for this drinker into whiskeyland, a liquor I have never much cared for.

Otherwise, though, the great flavors of Gonzo are subdued under the whiskey, and the lack of carbonation really dampers the potential of this beer. It's almost as if the lack of carbonation is preventing the other wonderful flavors of Gonzo sing, and we are left with a whiskey-dominated, watery brew.

This is a disappointment, but still good. The carbonation issue absolutely destroyed this beer, and I think I'd rather drink the regular Gonzo at proper combination.

I've had this on tap before and it was amazing. Maybe this was a bad batch or a bad bottle, but the carbonation deficit seemed to destroy this beer - though it's possible that all the wonderful subtle smokiness and vanilla goodness of Gonzo was absent from this bottle for other reasons.

Still, a decent beer, but miles below what it could and should be. I hold breweries accountable for the bottled quality of their product, however, so Flying Dog does not get a pass on this. I look forward to having another one of these from a different batch with high hopes.

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Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery
4.09 out of 5 based on 746 ratings.
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